United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
DUSTIN RIGGIO, individually, and in his representative capacity as Administrator of the Estate of Kim Mills, deceased, and on behalf of all wrongful death beneficiaries of Kim Mills, deceased PLAINTIFF
ISREAL PRUNEDA; SMC TRANSPORT LLC; WERNER ENTERPRISES, INC.; and JOHN DOES 1-5 DEFENDANTS
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO EXCLUDE
AND/OR LIMIT THE OPINIONS AND TESTIMONY OF DR. GEORGE H.
GUIROLA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
THE COURT is the  Motion to Exclude and/or Limit the
Opinions and Testimony of Dr. George H. Carter, filed by
Defendants Israel Pruneda and SMC Transport, LLC. Defendants
seek to prevent economist Dr. Carter from giving testimony
about the value of decedent's household services or
fringe and entitlement benefits. The Motion has been fully
briefed. After due consideration, the Court finds that the
Motion should be denied.
admission of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of
Evidence 702, which states,
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education may testify in the form of
an opinion or otherwise if: (a) the expert's scientific,
technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier
of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in
issue; (b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or
data; (c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles
and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the
principles and methods to the facts of the case.
Supreme Court in Daubert adopted a non-exhaustive,
illustrative list of reliability factors for determining the
admissibility of expert witness testimony. Daubert v.
Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-94 (1993).
The applicability of these factors depends on the nature of
the issue, the expert's particular expertise, and the
subject of the testimony. Kumho Tire Co. v.
Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 151 (1999). “[T]here is
no requirement that an economist meet each and every factor
in order to be found reliable.” Mata v. Lowe's
Home Ctrs., Inc ., No. SA-04-CA-0691 WWJ, 2006
WL 5159392, at * 3 (W.D. Tex. Feb. 9, 2006) (citing
Kumho, 526 U.S. at 158).
Carter stated that the “Scenario Valued” in this
case was, “[i]f not for death, Kim Mills would have
worked as an activities coordinator, or in a similar
occupation, for her work life expectancy. Ms. Mills would
have maintained a household for herself for her life
expectancy.” (Def. Mot. Ex. B, at 1, ECF No. 170-2.) He
explained that “[h]ousehold service losses represent
the value of replacing the previously uncompensated
activities necessary for daily life.” (Id. at
5.) He noted that Mills' adult children lived in her
household, and in the absence of a table for her living
arrangement calculated the value of her services to her
household by using the “most conservative single women
tables.” (Id. at 16.)
object that Dr. Carter's opinion regarding the value of
decedent's household services lacks factual support
because he relied on The Dollar Value of a Day:
2017 Dollar Valuation to arrive at an estimate rather
than calculating a value based on the household services
Mills actually provided. A number of courts have noted that
the publication relied on by Dr. Carter is one generally used
by economists to value household services. For example, in
ruling on a similar challenge to Dr. Carter's testimony
in a wrongful death case, the Desoto County Circuit Court
With regard to household services, as opposed to actual
employment, the total time spent by a person on those
services during an average week is not measured by a
time-clock. The services performed by one member of the home,
and/or the time spent performing the same, may go unnoticed
or simply unmeasured by another member of the household.
Accordingly, many economists commonly rely on studies which
estimate the time spent on household services, taking into
account the size of the family, whether each family member
works, their age, etc. - one such study being The Dollar
Value of the Day: 2007 Dollar Valuation, Shawnee
Mission, Kansas, 2011.
Aguero v. Gayoso, No. CV20090309, 2013 WL 7020461,
at *3 (Cir. Ct. Desoto Cty., Miss. Sept. 4, 2013).
district courts have also accepted the use of this
publication to value household services. See Dallas v.
Premier Vehicle Transp., Inc., No. 1:16CV358-LG-RHW,
2017 WL 3623750, at *3 (S.D.Miss. Aug. 23, 2017); Ashford
v. Wal-Mart Stores, LP, No. 1:11-CV-57-HSO-JMR, 2013 WL
152853, at *5 (S.D.Miss. Jan. 15, 2013); but see Ellis v.
Kovalchuk, No. 3:12-cv-498-HTW-LRA, at 8-9 (S.D.Miss.
Sept. 30, 2014) (reliance on The Dollar Value of a
Day instead of specific information about household
services provided rendered Dr. Carter's valuation
inadmissible ipse dixit). In the Court's view,
Defendants' objection to Dr. Carter's household
services valuation testimony affects the weight to be
assigned to his testimony, and not its admissibility. See
Viterbo v. Dow Chem. Co., 826 F.2d 420, 422 (5th Cir.
1987) (“As a general rule, questions relating to the
bases and sources of an expert's opinion affect the
weight to be assigned that opinion rather than its
admissibility and should be left for the jury's
consideration.”). “[I]t is for the jury to
determine whether Plaintiffs have offered a non-speculative
factual basis for these damages.” South v.
Austin, No. 3:15CV342-DPJ-FKB, 2016 WL 7209554, at *1
(S.D.Miss. Dec. 12, 2016). Dr. Carter will be allowed to
testify about the value of the alleged loss of household
Fringe Benefits and Entitlements
object to Dr. Carter's inclusion of 1) employer
entitlement benefits for Social Security and Medicare, and 2)
typical employer-provided fringe benefits. Defendants argue
that Dr. Carter has assumed that Mills received these
benefits, but his assumption is completely unsupported by any
information provided by Plaintiffs. However, Dr. Carter's
report notes that Mills' employer reported income on Form
W-2. (Def. Mot. Ex. B, at 11, 14, ECF No. 170-2.) He states
that this form “documents that [Mills] was provided
legally-required benefits, ” including Social Security,
Medicare, unemployment compensation, and workers compensation
benefits. (Id.). Dr. Carter's valuation
of these benefits therefore appears to have been properly
based on evidence that they had been actually received
instead of a mere assumption. Rebelwood Apartments
RP, LP v. ...